Rise of Delta Variant Triggers Return to Workplace Concerns for Nearly Half of U.S. Workers

Forty-four percent of working Americans say that the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant impacts their willingness to return to the workplace. Fifty percent of workers say the variant has increased concerns about contracting COVID-19. Most workers say the variant means they will take extra precautions at work (61 percent) and in their personal life (64 percent). Employees indicate that they would feel more comfortable in their workplace (64 percent) than going to a restaurant (36 percent) during the ongoing pandemic.

This workforce sentiment research from Eagle Hill Consulting comes as federal regulators have granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and as many employers announce delays in back to the workplace plans due to rising COVID-19 delta variant cases, hospitalizations and deaths, largely among the unvaccinated.

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When asked about whether unvaccinated employees should pay higher insurance rates, a large share of workers (41 percent) are supportive. Gen Z workers were least supportive of higher insurance rates (23 percent), while Baby Boomers were most supportive (45 percent).

The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workplace Survey measures employee sentiment about COVID-19 vaccines, returning to the workplace, as well as testing and safety protocols.

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“Approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a game changer for employers,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting president and chief executive officer. “With Food and Drug Administration licensing, more employers could mandate worker vaccinations.”

“At the same time, the COVID-19 summer surge is upending employers return to the workplace plans,” Jezior said. “A large portion of the workforce is worried about the delta variant, and many employers are taking action. They’re delaying going back to the workplace, announcing vaccine mandates, and keeping health and safety protocols in place.”

“The key for employers is to remain flexible and listen to employee views so they are best positioned to navigate through even more COVID-19 uncertainty. It’s even more important for employers to fully understand what employees want given the acute labor shortage. Unlike the early days of the pandemic, workers aren’t afraid to quit their jobs. Retaining talent means creating a culture and work environment – virtual or in person – that is aligned with employee preferences,” Jezior explained.

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